Hundreds attend Dunn County Community Thanksgiving Dinner


More than 300 people attended the Dunn County Community Thanksgiving Dinner at the High Plains Cultural Center on Sunday. Volunteers from several entities and the community worked together to make the event happen. (Photo by Maggie Piatz)


In a setting right out of a Norman Rockwell painting, Julian Duran sat with his family and enjoyed a hot meal on Sunday at the High Plains Cultural Center.

Duran was just passing through with his family on his way to South Dakota for Thanksgiving. But then he saw the sign at the cultural center announcing the free Dunn County Thanksgiving Dinner.

Though they were strangers, Duran, his wife, Josie, and 3-year-old son, Jeremiah, were met with warm smiles and kind words, and a feast fit for a king.

“We were going to stop at the convenience store to get some snacks, but this is way better,” Duran said, as he fed Jeremiah, a heaping spoonful of mashed potatoes.

Jeremiah also had some ham, corn, a little salad and some pie for dessert.

“We’re not going to forget this – ever. I feel so welcome here,” Duran said.


There were smiles and laughter and fellowship at the Dunn County Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

Organizers of the informal planning committee of a variety of Dunn County entities didn’t know what to expect when the dinner was planned. What they got was a resounding success.

Duran and his family were among 325 people who attended the dinner.

“I think it was a great success,” said Janet Wanek, one of the organizers. “People hung around and talked throughout the whole thing.”

Dozens of volunteers came together to help with the meal. Some set up tables. Others served the food. Others bussed tables and washed dishes. And others greeted the hungry visitors like Duran with a welcoming smile assuring hand shake.

Recently re-elected Dunn County Commissioner Bob Kleemann worked with fellow commissioner Craig Pelton to serve on the buffet line.

Both men said they were thankful to be able to help bring the community together with a warm meal in a project designed to bring people together to rekindle friendships and meet new people and possibly forge new friendships.

Those relationships are important, many said, and coming together for Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks.

For Stephanie Ledesma, who carried her baby, Brynn, she was thankful for her “family.”

Others were thankful for other reasons.

“Even though we had the hail storm, I am grateful that our contractors are sticking around to get the jobs done for all of us,” said Denise Sandvick.

For Duran, the dinner and accompanying atmosphere will be forever ingrained in his mind and in his heart.

Yep, right out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

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